The unfortunate consequence is that, in a very real sense, our intellectual culture is filled with figures who are essentially mass-produced ersatz knock-offs of their aristocratic forebearers. They are of decent quality, they serve their purpose, and boy, they sure were cheap to produce. But I don’t think they have quite the same sound.
Yet, for such a start-up the problem is obvious: tutoring highlights economic privilege. And as Tocqueville pointed out, the rejection of aristocracy is a foundation of the American ethos. It’s telling I felt uncomfortable writing this essay, despite being confident it’s true.
the education system of the United States is based entirely on genetic determinism. A child is born assumed to have innate traits, including, for example, a preference as to what they want to be when they grow up (somehow just waiting fully-formed inside of their six-year-old selves). Then they are thrown into the school system, a competitive academic meritocracy wrapped in an obtuse hierarchical bureaucracy, a structure in which they will spend most of their young adult life, forced to learn mostly from their peers, who know as little as they do. Those who can’t sit through it are given drugs until they can.
Tutoring, one-on-one instruction, dramatically improves student’s abilities and scores. In education research this effect is sometimes called “Bloom’s 2-sigma problem” because in the 1980s the researcher Benjamin Bloom found that tutored students . . performed two standard deviations better than students who learn via conventional instructional methods—that is, "the average tutored student was above 98% of the students in the control class.”
The superior method of education is deeply unfair and privileges those at the very top of the socioeconomic ladder. It’s an answer that was well-known historically, and is also observed by education researchers today: tutoring.
I think the most depressing fact about humanity is that during the 2000s most of the world was handed essentially free access to the entirety of knowledge and that didn’t trigger a golden age.
His answer was that the education system, as it stands, is there to turn kids into cogs. But no one wants their kids to be a cog. What it should be about, according to Emad, is happiness, which is a function of agency and progress.
Critics of lore used to be commercially impartial commentators dedicated to the artistic “truth.” Today, a critic is part of the culture-media-commerce machinery that feeds itself. A person can change something “just 3 percent” and count to be overhyped by mainstream media and celebrities. In return, they are happy to become readily available content creators. Faced with this culture-media-commerce hype cycle, consumers get bored quickly, and move onto the next thing.
commercial success dictates what’s created, so we get endless repetition of popular things. Everything, from movies to sneakers, is a sequel.
At the same time, the taste space has never been flatter. Burning Man outfits, family pajama sets, Halloween costumes, weddings, craft breweries and coffee shops all appeal to our tendency to revert to the recognizable and the familiar. Just like crickets or lightbulbs, only amplified with Instagram likes, Twitter hashtags and other performance metrics, our taste signals are harmonized, so all of us end up looking the same, dressing the same, liking the same things, and visiting the same places that also start to look alike.